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Legal Powers Given to Lucy Letby Inquiry

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay announces that the inquiry into the circumstances around crimes committed by Lucy Letby will become statutory


  • Government announces inquiry into murders and attempted murders at Countess of Chester hospital will become statutory

  • After listening to the views of families of the victims, the move will give the inquiry legal powers which include compelling witnesses to give evidence under oath

  • The inquiry will look at the circumstances surrounding the murders and attempted murders committed by Lucy Letby


The inquiry into circumstances around the horrific crimes committed by former neonatal nurse, Lucy Letby, will become statutory, the Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay announced today (Wednesday, 30 August).


While statutory inquiries traditionally take longer to conclude than non-statutory inquiries, moving to a statutory footing will mean the inquiry will have legal powers to compel witnesses, including former and current staff of the Countess of Chester Hospital Trust, to give evidence. It will also mean that evidence must be heard in public, unless the Inquiry Chair decides otherwise.


Announced shortly after Letby was convicted of murdering and attempting to murder babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital, it will ensure vital lessons are learned and will provide answers to the parents and families impacted.


The Health and Social Care Secretary has been clear from the outset that he wants the families impacted in this tragic case to have the opportunity to engage with and shape the scope of the inquiry. Following a meeting with them yesterday, the government has acted swiftly to respect their wishes and put the inquiry on a legal footing.


Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

The crimes committed by Lucy Letby are truly harrowing, and my thoughts remain with the families of her victims. Following her conviction, we announced an inquiry and said the nature of this inquiry would be shaped by the families. Having now discussed this with the families, we will launch a full statutory inquiry giving it the legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.
This statutory public inquiry will aim to give the families the answers they need and ensure lessons are learned.

The statutory inquiry will investigate the wider circumstances around what happened at the Trust, including the handling of concerns and governance. It will also look at what actions were taken by regulators and the wider NHS.


We will publish the inquiry’s terms of reference - setting out the scope of the work - in due course.


The government has indicated that it will look to appoint a judge to chair the inquiry, and the Health and Social Care Secretary is working with colleagues across government to identify a suitable candidate as soon as possible.

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